Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Super Tuesday Search! A big missed opportunity for traditional publishers?

Yesterday saw a massive, Worldwide news event - the 'Super Tuesday' Presidential primaries. Every UK newspaper has covered it widely with in depth analysis, snazzy graphics, free supplements and even free wall charts - all led by the perceived need to stand out on the news stand to drive readership.

There were also ways to increase traffic to publisher websiites. On 'Super Tuesday' Paid Search was a massive opportunity to drive short term gains, through monetising extra traffic, and long term gains, by increasing site profile across a truly global audience. I have used Google Trends (below) to illustrate the 'Super Tuesday' Paid Search opportunity, but few UK publishers seemed to take advantage of it and those that did seem to have been on limited budgets.

History of Searches for 'Super Tuesday' - 2 spikes - 'Super Tuesday' in 2004 election + 'Super Tuesday' in 2008
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Trend showing significant Worldwide increase on 'Super Tuesday' searches over the last 7 days
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Trend showing that in the 'UK region' searches for 'Super Tuesday' saw massive increase on the day
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To demonstrate how easy it was to capitalise on the 'Super Tuesday' opportunity I ran my own 'Super Tuesday' Search campaign to promote a couple of relevant posts on this blog. This also gave insight into how things like bid prices, volume of searches and competitor insight changed as the day progressed.

The Sun and the Guardian newspapers ran occasional ads on Super Tuesday related keywords, along with occasional ads from US news organisations like CNN, the New York Times and the Economist. However, a number of key phrases had no advertising alongside them at all and with such low competition on these keywords generally, it was relatively easy for me to experiment with running some Paid Search ads myself!

I bought the following:

- "Super Tuesday" and variants of this phrase

- "US Presidential election" and versions of this phrase (including things like "primaries")

- candidate names

- a few random phrases linked to some of the media vehicles like "You Choose 08" and "Choose or Lose"

I ran my test on UK targeting (minimum bids on a global basis were prohibitive) and ran for 12 hours prior to and then the full 24 hours of Super Tuesday. I ran on Google, the Google site network and the Google Content network with 4 different ad texts that were served in rotation. I was often solus ad alongside these enquiries, especially as Super Tuesday traffic increased and minimum bids went up, resulting in previous advertisers becoming "Inactive for Search."

I think my campaign demonstrates how easy it is to get great coverage and exposure if you are prepared to treat one-off events in isolation. Rather than working to a definitive, average CPC across the week / month, publishers should be prepared to remove bid caps and invest more money on one-off event days like 'Super Tuesday.' Average CPC would be higher than usual as higher traffic around specific events tends to push up minimum bids, but days like 'Super Tuesday' clearly have great potential to drive traffic and encourage new users to sample.

Screengrabs from my campaign (click to see larger images):


Roadofbones said...

I am a Portland ME city delegate and we have approx. 17 out of 29 delegates for Paul (officially uncommitted) for the city. We also took 30% in our pres. preference poll. I will be going to Augusta (at least) in May.

Please take an honest look at a true American patriot, Long live Doctor No!

Nick Burcher said...

The Google blog has more details on Super Tuesday searches - "Searches for [super tuesday results] hit the top of our Hot Trends list early in the afternoon and stayed number one through much of the night. Related terms like [primary results], [where do i vote] and [super tuesday exit polls] were also in the top ten for significant chunks of time. Senator Obama turned out to be the most widely-searched candidate of the day, and [health care] emerged as the most popular policy issue."